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Denis McDonough Offers Update on VA’s Service Records Digitization Effort

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Denis McDonough, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, said VA has begun storing digitized veteran service records in the cloud and building automated decision platforms to speed up military retirees’ access to health care, Federal News Network reported Friday.

“When you make a claim, for example, we can go prosecute those records using automated decision support tools, rather than requiring somebody to leaf through them page by page,” McDonough said Wednesday at a town hall event.

“So leaving to the machines what the machines do well, which is go through a lot of data quickly, to pull out of the relevant pieces, and then leaving to humans — our great VBA workforce — to do what they do well, which is to make a judgment about that analytic information,” he added.

Although the implementation of an electronic health record system from Oracle Cerner has been slow, McDonough said he believes the EHR platform would help streamline the transfer of digital records between VA and the Department of Defense.

“That will allow us to access digitally your full record, from your service in the Corps, from the moment you joined, until the moment your care with us is no longer needed,” McDonough said.

In October, VA announced its decision to further push back to June 2023 the upcoming EHR deployments to review and address technical and system performance issues facing VA health care personnel and veterans.